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3 Indian scientists elected fellows of Royal Society

Chatterjee is distinguished for his discoveries of genetic disorders of thyroid gland formation, Khot is a theoretical computer scientist and Malhi is an ecosystem ecologist.

world Updated: May 06, 2017 19:25 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
the London-based Royal Society on Friday announced the 2017 election of 50 scientists and 10 foreign members for their outstanding contributions to science.
the London-based Royal Society on Friday announced the 2017 election of 50 scientists and 10 foreign members for their outstanding contributions to science.(Courtesy: Royal Society)

Three Indian-origin scientists known for their expertise in genetics, computers and ecology have been elected fellows of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.

Headed by Nobel winner Venki Ramakrishnan, the London-based Royal Society on Friday announced the 2017 election of 50 scientists and 10 foreign members for their outstanding contributions to science.

Ramakrishnan said: “Science is a great triumph of human achievement and has contributed hugely to the prosperity and health of our world…The new fellows have already contributed much to science and it gives me great pleasure to welcome them into our ranks.”

The three Indian-origin scientists are Krishna Chatterjee (University of Cambridge), Yadvinder Malhi (University of Oxford) and Subhash Khot (New York University).

Chatterjee is distinguished for his discoveries of genetic disorders of thyroid gland formation, regulation of hormone synthesis and hormone action, which have advanced fundamental knowledge of the thyroid axis. The Royal Society said Chatterjee has identified dominant negative inhibition by defective nuclear hormone receptors as a common mechanism in Resistance to Thyroid Hormone and PPARg-mediated insulin resistance.

“He has shown how deficiency of human selenocysteine-containing proteins causes a multisystem disease, including disordered thyroid hormone metabolism. He seeks to translate such understanding into better diagnosis and therapy of both rare and common thyroid conditions,” it said.

(Left) Krishna Chatterjee is based at the University of Cambridge, while Subhash Khot works at the New York University. (Courtesy: Royal Society)

Khot is a theoretical computer scientist whose original contributions, the society said, are providing critical insight into unresolved problems in the field of computational complexity.

“He is best known for his prescient definition of the ‘Unique Games’ problem, and leading the effort to understand its complexity and its pivotal role in the study of efficient approximation of optimization problems; his work has led to breakthroughs in algorithmic design and approximation hardness, and to new exciting interactions between computational complexity, analysis and geometry,” it said.

Malhi is an ecosystem ecologist who the society said has advanced understanding of the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems and how they are responding to the pressures of global change, including climate change, degradation and loss of large animals.

“This work integrates insights from ecosystem ecology into Earth System science, and has been characterised by a multidisciplinary approach that involves establishing broad networks of field research in tropical forests in some of the most remote and challenging regions of the world, and also application of micrometeorological approaches, global climate datasets, terrestrial ecosystem models and satellite remote sensing. This work has contributed to our understanding of the carbon sink in the terrestrial biosphere, and to how it may be vulnerable to climate warming,” the society said.